Kids health

Ask Dr. Dina: Could lake bacteria at the cottage make my kid sick?

When it comes to summer fun, the water is a great place to cool off. But what about germs and bacteria in the lake?

I’m getting ready for my first cottage getaway with my toddler. I have all the water safety stuff down, but should I be worried about germs in the lake? 

Recreational water illnesses are caused by viruses and bacteria, such as E. coli, found in the water we swim in. Kids might be at risk if they swallow or have contact with contaminated water. Luckily, most of the lakes and rivers around cottage country are relatively safe, though I would not suggest drinking the water. You can sometimes get information on lake bacteria from the local municipality, which may have up-to-date reports on the E. coli count.

Teach your child to keep his mouth closed when underwater, and always have fresh, clean water at the ready to quench his thirst. If he develops diarrhea or vomiting, see a doctor, who may recommend a stool test to determine which bacteria or virus caused the symptoms. If the illness is bacterial, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat it.

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